Skipping School: The Best Fall Weekend Hikes Around College Campuses

Skipping School: The Best Fall Weekend Hikes
Autumn brings the melancholic reminder of summer's past and winter's inevitable arrival. The bittersweet cooling of the air also brings the bright, sharp colors of the fall leave palette. As the leaves change, there is also the migration of college students shuffling back to classes for another year of hitting the books and attending classes. Many college campuses rest amid the fall colors, making the allure of skipping a class or two to hike in the fall colors a flirty temptation. If you can't hold yourself back, take a day off from your campus and head out for a hike on one of these trails.

University of Vermont-Long Trail

Vermont's Long Trail is aptly named. The trail runs through the Green Mountains, next to Burlington, home of the University of Vermont Burlington. The Long Trail covers more than 270 miles from the Massachusetts state line to the Canadian border. Access points are available all throughout the trail, including several in the Burlington area.

Try heading out from the university and hitting the trail at the Vermont 242 road heading toward Jay Peak. Park at the trailhead and hike out for views of the Green Mountains and the changing maple leaves. On the way back to campus, stop at one of the roadside apple cider stands for a fresh mug of cider and perhaps an apple pie.

University of North Carolina Asheville-Carolina Mountain Trail

Asheville, North Carolina is home to the University of North Carolina Asheville. Within 15 minutes drive of the city and campus is the Carolina Mountain Trail. The trail gets you up and into the Appalachian Mountains that erupt with color during the fall. Maple and birch leaves turn shades or orange, yellow, gold and red during the fall months, making them a tempting, colorful harpy to draw college students away from classes.

Enjoy the overlook and Bent Creek during the 2.4 mile hike. Take highway 191S and follow the signs to the North Carolina Arboretum. Park at the trailhead parking lot.

Utah State University-Old Ephraim's Grave Trail

Logan, Utah rests high into the mountains in the northeast corner of the state. Numerous trails dot the region, allowing students attending Utah State University to play hooky in the fall aspen colors. The Utah aspen turn shades of yellow and gold, letting you believe there really is gold in them thar hills.

For a truly adventurous stomp in the mountains in the fall colors, try Old Ephraim's Grave Trail. The name of the trail is apropos for the Halloween fall spirit. Old Ephraim is allegedly the last known grizzly bear in Utah. Ephraim gained notoriety for killing sheep, chicken and other livestock, making him the bane of the local ranchers. A bounty was put on Ephraim's head and in 1923 he met his demise. For many, this signaled a turning point of the Wild West and represents the taming of the west's backcountry.

Today, the trail is a spirit to the Old West with 10.8 miles of an out-and-back trail. The trails takes you up and over rocky terrain, through pine and aspen forests and to the rock marker of Ephraim's Grave. Stand next to the 10-foot-tall stone marker. This is said to have been Ephraim's height when standing on his back legs.

Take Highway 80 east out of Logan and follow it to the Lodge Campground. Park in the campground parking lot.

Article Written By Eric Cedric

A former Alaskan of 20 years, Eric Cedric now resides in California. He's published in "Outside" and "Backpacker" and has written a book on life in small-town Alaska, "North by Southeast." Cedric was a professional mountain guide and backcountry expedition leader for 18 years. He worked in Russia, Iceland, Greece, Turkey and Belize. Cedric attended Syracuse University and is a private pilot.

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